LA Times: Faces of 2020 — Portraits of the year’s pivotal artists, icons and breakout stars ft. Madame Gandhi

(Times photos by Jay L. Clendenin, Christina House and Mel Melcon)

Making face-to-face connections in 2020 has never been more difficult. COVID-19 has not only brought heartbreaking loss of life and affected the livelihoods of millions, it has also kept us apart from close friends and family. The distance has also transformed the way we work. Those in the business of creating culture have had to come up with inventive ways to safely bring art and entertainment to audiences looking for meaning and diversion during the pandemic.

For Times reporters and photographers, covering these creators has brought new challenges. As you might expect, interviews and even some photo sessions were done on Zoom or Skype. Yet many in Hollywood and the arts world let our photographers into their homes and backyards or met us at parks or nature reserves for socially distanced portraits. These shoots required extra planning, creativity and lots of personal protective equipment. The results, true collaborations between subject and photographer, led to a collection of portraits that make our third annual Sunday Calendar photo issue our strongest yet.

When entertainment photo editor Ken Kwok presented his selections to art directors An Amlotte and Judith Pryor, the hard part was finding space for all of the work we wanted to showcase from Times photographers. What follows are the year’s most captivating portraits of creators who in a time of pandemic disruption made culture meaningful.

Laurie Ochoa, Sunday Calendar editor

Madame Gandhi

Photographed by Mariah Tauger

Musical artist Madame Gandhi, photographed in the Arts District in downtown Los Angeles on Oct. 21, 2020.(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

I love music that is about joy and positivity and being present, and beats that are hypnotic. When someone is drumming and they stop, I instantly miss it. Things feel silent. Madame Gandhi

MADAME GANDHI, the musician and activist, whose given name is Kiran Gandhi, pulled off a Harvard MBA while, unbeknownst to her parents, flying off to Poland, Japan and other destinations on weekends to play drums onstage with rapper M.I.A. Gandhi was also coming to terms with being attracted to multiple genders. Now 31, she’s at work on her third album, “Vibrations,” under a new record deal with Sony Masterworks, and she collaborated with Indian Canadian fashion brand Nor Black Nor White on custom-dyed silk dresses, shirts and jumpsuits. She spoke with Kavita Daswani for the Nov. 8 Image section. Read the article here.

Portrait of Madame Gandhi with a bike and sunflowers around the Arts District.

Madame Gandhi in L.A.’s Arts District on Oct. 21, 2020.(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

Madame Gandhi was photographed in L.A.’s the Arts District on Oct. 21, 2020 with the help of the musician’s “dream team”: personal assistant Olive Hays, hair stylist Lady Soulfly, makeup artist Reba Vera and stylist Neal St. Onge. (Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

Jason DePuy

Photographed by Christina House

Jason De Puy of West Hollywood, photographed during a June 14, 2020, solidarity march with Refuse Fascism and All Black Lives Matter in Hollywood.(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

“Racism ain’t a good look, honey.” … “Racists, sashay away!” … “Less Karens, more caring.” Signs seen at All Blacks Lives Matter March, June 4

JASON DE PUY was just one of thousands of masked protesters who took to the streets of Hollywood and West Hollywood for the June 14 All Black Lives Matter demonstration, where many marched in solidarity against racism and in support of LGBTQ rights. Hailey Branson-Potts and Matt Stiles covered the protest for the June 15 California section.

Regina King

Photographed by Christina House

Regina King photographed at 1 Hotel West Hollywood on Aug. 3, 2020. (Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

That term ‘Black Girl Magic’ … it’s not magic. It’s actually work! It’s carrying the load. And that load is heavy. Regina King

REGINA KING won her fourth Emmy this year for what many consider the greatest role of her career — detective Angela Abar, a.k.a. Sister Night in HBO’s “Watchmen.” King also made her feature film directorial debut with the Christmas release of “One Night in Miami,” an imagining of the real-life meetup between Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, Jim Brown and Cassius Clay (soon to take the name Muhammed Ali) on the night the fighter won the heavyweight boxing title against Sonny Liston. King talked about both projects with entertainment columnist Glenn Whipp for the Aug. 13 issue of The Envelope.

Regina King poolside at 1 Hotel West Hollywood on Aug. 3, 2020. (Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

Christian Serratos

Photographed by Christina House

Actress Christian Serratos, photographed at the John Lautner-designed Garcia House above Mulholland Drive near Nichols Canyon on Nov. 17, 2020. (Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

I knew I was never going to make everybody happy. I knew that because [Selena] had that star quality. We all feel a sense of ownership when it comes to Selena — that’s my homie, that’s my family, that’s my sister. Christian Serratos

CHRISTIAN SERRATOS was best known as “The Walking Dead’s” Rosita Espinosa until this fall, when she took on the starring role in Netflix’s “Selena: The Series.” We’ll be seeing a lot more of her next year in the second season of “Selena” as well as the 11th season of “The Walking Dead.” Serratos talked with Yvonne Villarreal about playing the beloved Tejano singer for the Nov. 29 issue of Sunday Calendar.

Christian Serratos makes a splash at the John Lautner-designed Garcia House near Nichols Canyon on Nov. 17, 2020. (Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

Actress Christian Serratos above Mulholland Drive at the rainbow-shaped Garcia House on Nov. 17, 2020. (Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

Daveed Diggs

Photographed by Jay L. Clendenin

Actor, rapper and songwriter Daveed Diggs photographed at his home in Los Angeles on May 20, 2020.(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

I grew up running track for the Oakland Police Athletic League, so my coaches were cops. Despite the sort of healthy Black fear of police I have, you know, just growing up in my body, I also have profound love and respect and am thankful to some specific police officers in my life. Daveed Diggs

DAVEED DIGGS was seen in many guises in 2020. In May came the launch of his TNT series “Snowpiercer,” based on the French graphic novels “Le Transperceneige” and Bong Joon Ho’s 2013 film. In July, Disney+ released the film version of “Hamilton,” featuring Diggs as Thomas Jefferson and the Marquis de Lafayette. And in October his experimental rap trio Clipping released the horrorcore album, “Visions of Bodies Being Burned,” not to mention their Juneteenth release of “Chapter 319″ in honor of George Floyd with a sample from Floyd who rapped in Houston’s chopped and screwed scene as Big Floyd. Diggs is also costar of the Apple TV+ animated musical series “Central Park.” Diggs talked with The Times’ Michael Ordoña about “Snowpiercer” and more for Calendar.

Daveed Diggs at his Los Angeles home in May just as his TNT series “Snowpiercer” was being launched and before the July premiere of the movie version of “Hamilton” on Disney+ and the September release of his rap album.(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Check out the full piece here.

By the LA Times for the LA Times